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Attorney General Holder Hopes to Settle US/AA Suit Before Trial

HolderDuring a press conference regarding an unrelated matter, US Attorney General Eric Holder stated the US government hopes to settle the US/AA merger lawsuit before it goes to trial.

"Discussions are ongoing,'' Holder said Monday morning, briefly addressing the matter during an unrelated Justice announcement in Washington. "We hope to be able to resolve this short of trial."

Holder reiterated concerns about the merged airline's presence in Washington and other capacity controlled airports.

"What we have tried to focus on is to make sure that any resolution in this case necessarily included divestitures of facilities at key constrained airports throughout the United States," Holder added. "That, for us, is something that has to be a part of -- of any resolution."

When asked if there was "a magic number" of slots Justice is seeking at airports like Washington Reagan National, New York JFK and New York LaGuardia, Holder answered: "Yes, there is, but I won't tell you what it is."

US Airways would not comment.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the largest union at US Airways representing approximately 14,000 workers, has withheld support for the merger and reiterated that IAM members at US Airways need to settle contract negotiations with the carrier before any merger related issues are discussed.

Holder's comments come on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report that looks at what may be at the center of those "ongoing discussions." The newspaper says U.S. antitrust regulators will press American and US Airways to accept "a broad package of divestitures" in order to win approval of a merger."


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